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The Familiar Dark

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  4,530 ratings  ·  1,089 reviews
Set in the poorest part of the Missouri Ozarks, in a small town with big secrets, The Familiar Dark opens with a murder. Eve Taggert, desperate with grief over losing her daughter, takes it upon herself to find out the truth about what happened. Eve is no stranger to the dark side of life, having been raised by a hard-edged mother whose lessons Eve tried not to pass on to ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 31st 2020 by Dutton Books
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Amy Engel Hi there, I'm thrilled you enjoyed the book! Hmmm...if I were having a book club discussion about the book I might talk about the importance of the se…moreHi there, I'm thrilled you enjoyed the book! Hmmm...if I were having a book club discussion about the book I might talk about the importance of the setting to the story. Also, the themes of rural poverty and motherhood (specifically the lengths mothers will go to for their children and the various ways in which mothers chose to raise their daughters) were front and center as I wrote. As far as characters, I try to write most characters so they are neither all good nor all bad, so that might be a topic for discussion. Hope this helps to give you a starting point.(less)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,530 ratings  ·  1,089 reviews

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Jul 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
i will say one thing and one thing only: if you liked Sharp Objects or Pretty Girls, you're gonna want to get on this one immediately.

ur welcome
Emily May
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
The world might be changing in some places, but not here. Here it was still the same old merry-go-round of drugs and poverty and women being chewed up and spit out by men. People in other worlds could wear black evening gowns and give speeches about equality and not backing down, but out here in the trenches, we fought our war alone and we lost the battles every day.

There's clearly a reason why so many of us are drawn again and again toward these thrillers told from the perspective of a pare
Meredith ( on Semi-Hiatus until February)
Dark, Gritty, and Disturbing

“The world was ugly, especially for girls. There was no escaping it. You either fought back or you surrendered.”

The Familiar Dark is a suspenseful, intense psychological thriller about a grieving mother’s quest for vengeance.

Eve, a young single mother, has led a hard life. She grew up in an area in the Ozarks where the poor are separated from the poorer. It’s a fine line to survive and Eve grew up with an abusive, drug-addicted mother. Eve could have fallen into a si
Nilufer Ozmekik
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another book will shake you to the core, leaving an unforgettable scar at your sole forever, stealing a vulnerable piece of your heart!

In the middle of wilderness, abandoned, neglected town, left behind with its trailer park, an empire of crystal meth, heroine industry with its citizens who turned into wolves wearing human posts.

Welcome to Missouri, Ozarks and meet with our heroine Eve Taggert who grew up with her drug addicted mother and her older brother Cal who did everything to protect and
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My reviews can also be seen at: https://deesradreadsandreviews.wordpr...

I really enjoyed Amy Engel’s previous novel “The Roanoke Girls” and have been looking forward to her next novel ever since.

It was worth the wait!

“Sometimes the answers are worse than the questions. Sometimes it’s better not to know.”

Thirty-year-old, Eve Taggert can't wait for her shift at the local diner to be over. Eve promised her twelve-year-old daughter, Junie that she’d be home early so they could order a pizza and w
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Amy Engel follows the brilliant The Roanoke Girls with this superb gritty, tragic, character driven, emotionally nerve wracking, atmospheric mystery set in the Missouri Ozarks in the small town of Barren Springs, a place barren of hope and opportunities in a desperate poverty stricken community, plagued by the social ills of drink and drugs. Single mom, Eve Taggert, works in a diner, a product of a tough and hard upbringing with a volatile and cruel meth addicted mother, and an older brother, Ca ...more
Feb 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs-read
After the birth of her first and only child, Junie, Eve Taggert vows to do a better job parenting than her own mother did.

Growing up in dire poverty, in the heart of the Ozarks, Eve's drug-addicted mom was hell to deal with. Understandably, she wants more for her own daughter.

Eve dedicates the next 12-years to putting her past far, far behind her. So much so, she never even bothers bringing Junie to her Mother's house. She doesn't need a Grandmother like that.

Most importantly, however, Eve trie
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was really into this book. Great, challenging protagonist, the story starts with an intense event, well written. There is a twist in the middle of the book that genuinely surprised me and I am rarely surprised. I don’t know how I feel about the ending. It feels rushed after a protracted “mystery” and it is just so implausible. I get what the author was going for and the point she was trying to make with this twist but I didn’t believe it. Anyway. Well worth a read.
Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
5 stars!

Gritty. Emotional. Gripping. Addictive.

The novel starts with emotional intensity when Eve Taggart discovers her twelve-year-old daughter has been murdered at the local playground. Eve and her bother Cal, who is a local police officer, go on a hunt to track down the killer while uncovering small town secrets and scandal.

I loved Eve! I connected with her from the first chapter when she reacts to the discovery of her daughters death. My heart broke for her and I became extremely invested i
Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
Hot Diggity Dang! This is one exciting emotionally taut page-turner not to be missed. I had to ask Amy Engel about this one and her writing process. She joined us in our Behind the Pages group to answer some questions for us and gave us some great insight into her characters and writing.

You can find the Q & A here

Amy Engel takes us to the poorest part of the Missouri Ozarks and creates a dark, harrowing, harsh and gritty atmospheric setting. We are pulle
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thirty year old Eve and her thirty one year old brother, Cal, grew up the worst kind of poor. Raised by a cruel, drug dealing, mother who had men living in their rotting trailer, all through Eve's life, who allowed drug dealers to set up camp in her trailer, who didn't protect Eve from the men who would molest her, Eve and Cal's life was one of danger and misery. As children, Cal and Eve just had each other and they spent time wrapped around each other, trying to stay warm, with no food to eat, ...more
Sumit RK
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sumit-s-shelf
Once in a while, you read a story without having any idea of what to expect, and in the end, it turns out to be a totally unforgettable experience. The Familiar Dark is one such gem. At the heart of it, it’s the story of a mother, who sets out on a relentless pursuit for justice after her teenage daughter is murdered by an unknown assailant.

Set in a small-town part of the Missouri, 12-year-old Junie and her best friend, Izzy, are found with their throats slit on a playground. Determined to fin
Mar 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Little girls were never safe. I should know; I used to be one."

Eve Taggert is a single Mother whose bright light was snuffed out when her twelve-year-old daughter, Junie was murdered in a local park with her twelve-year-old friend, Izzy. Who could do such a thing? Why would someone want to hurt these two young girls?

Eve's life has not been easy. She was raised by a drug-addicted mother who not afraid to dish out abuse to both Eve and her brother Cal. When she left her Mother's home, she swo
Jun 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
Nope. I get this. Been there, done that.
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to JanB by: Victoria
“Fury is reserved for other people. The worst thing you can be is an angry woman, an angry mother.”

And Eve Taggert is angry. The vengeance kind of angry, and she doesn’t care who knows it or what they think of her. She grew up poor in the Ozarks, and remains poor in the Ozarks, a single mother eking out a meager existence as a waitress. She and her brother Cal grew up neglected and abused with a tough-as-nails drug-dealing mother. Eve cleaned her life up when Junie was born and is determined to
Michael David
Feb 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
A mother will do anything to avenge the death of her daughter.

Eve Taggert lives in a poor town in Missouri. She works as a waitress at a diner while raising her 12-year old daughter, Junie. The bodies of Junie and her best friend, Izzy, are found in a gruesome fashion at the park. Eve knows what it’s like to live a hard life, and will do whatever it takes to find the culprit...and make the culprit pay.

This is a hard read at times, as should be expected. Eve is poor...trying to do her best, livi
Jun 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: overdrive, audio
“God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in her shoes
'Cause then you really might know what it's like to have to choose”- Everlast

Eve Taggert grew up in a small town in Missouri. A town only a lucky few will ever escape. Once it has a firm grasp on you, you’re there for life.

Raised by their mother in a double-wide trailer, it was no happy childhood for Eve and her brother Cal. Never enough food on the table and second-hand clothes were a luxury. That is if they actually even fit.

Now a young adu
Apr 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hauntingly Dark And Gritty!

Taking place in the Missouri Ozarks, the story opens with a freak snowstorm in the middle of April where two savage and heartbreakingly brutal murders are taking place in an almost non-existent run down park where there will be no witnesses to these senseless crimes. The story centers around Eve Taggert a waitress and her beloved brother Cal who is a policeman and have grown up together with an abusive and drug and alcohol addicted mother and yet they still have that l
Jun 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
⭐4 out of 5 dirty yokels⭐

The setting is what makes this book so fascinating.
Barren Springs, a small, poverty-stricken town in the Ozarks, filled with simple-minded bigots, meth addicts, families who can't afford food, and uneducated low life cops.

"𝙃𝙤𝙬 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙗𝙚𝙚𝙣, 𝙜𝙞𝙧𝙡? "
"𝙊𝙝, 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙠𝙣𝙤𝙬, " 𝙄 𝙨𝙖𝙞𝙙, 𝙡𝙤𝙤𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙖𝙬𝙖𝙮.
"𝙉𝙤𝙩 𝙜𝙤𝙤𝙙, 𝙞𝙨 𝙬𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙄'𝙢 𝙜𝙪𝙚𝙨𝙨𝙞𝙣𝙜. 𝙎𝙤𝙢𝙚 𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙙 𝙤𝙛 𝙗𝙪𝙡𝙡𝙨𝙝𝙞𝙩, 𝙬𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙝𝙖𝙥𝙥𝙚𝙣𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙤 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙅𝙪𝙣𝙞𝙚. "
𝙄𝙣 𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙥𝙡𝙖𝙘𝙚𝙨, 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙢𝙪𝙧𝙙𝙚𝙧 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙬𝙤 𝙡𝙞𝙩𝙩𝙡𝙚 𝙜𝙞𝙧𝙡𝙨 𝙬𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 𝙝𝙖𝙫𝙚 𝙗𝙡𝙖𝙣𝙠𝙚𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙧𝙚 𝙩𝙤𝙬𝙣 𝙞𝙣 𝙝𝙤𝙧𝙧𝙤𝙧. 𝙃𝙚𝙧𝙚, 𝙞𝙩
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Eve Taggert grew up in the poorest part of the Missouri Ozarks with a meth addicted mother hell bent on crime and an older brother, Cal, that always did his best to protect her.

Eve, now an adult, works at the local diner scraping by a meager existence for her and her 12 year old daughter, Junie. When Cal, now a police officer, shows up at her work with the most devastating news. Junie and her best friend Izzy have been murdered at the playground, throats slashed and left for dead.

Eve has been
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There’s dark and then there’s Ozarks dark.

Engel gripped me with her prologue, was unrelenting in the tension throughout and then gut punched with the ending. The murders are not just a plot point, this isn’t just a thriller, this is an uncompromising look at a town born of desperation and brutal lives where the die is cast early and escape is futile.

The world might be changing in some places, but not here. Here it was still the same old merry-go-round of drugs and poverty and women being chewed
Larry H
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes!! Amy Engel's new thriller was absolutely terrific.

“It’s never the thing you’re expecting that wallops you. It’s always something sneaky, sliding up behind you when your attention’s fixed on something else.”

Eve’s world is torn completely apart when her 12-year-old daughter, Junie, is found murdered. Living in the same poor town in the Missouri Ozarks where she grew up, Eve expected many paths her daughter might take, but she never imagined she’d be murdered alongs
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
While this wasn't nearly as twisted as the last Amy Engel thriller I read, this was still a solid read and I'm excited to read anything else she puts out in the future!

TW: Because this is a thriller I've hidden them behind a spoiler tag. Click 'view spoiler' if you would like to see them --> (view spoiler)
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a harsh and grim tale but it’s compulsive reading. The setting for this book is Barren Springs, Missouri which is off the beaten track and a very hard place to make much of a living. In fact, it’s just a hard place. Two twelve year old girls, Izzy and Julie are murdered. Izzy’s parents are Jenny and Zach who are reasonably well off by the regions standards while Junie’s mum, the narrator Eve is by her own admission trailer trash. This novel is an eye opener as it shows the harsh reality ...more
Jul 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: grit-lit
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Or in this case, of a daughter murdered, in a small gritty town.
A little too convenient in parts and the character just couldn’t evoke that connection for me.
A good twist but it missed its mark for me. Still, not a bad read, just not a great one.

Kelli Wilson
Apr 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wow this is dark!
Damn the writing is amazing!!

A gritty dark captivating novel that I couldn't put down. The main character has to be one of the strongest female characters I've ever read. And you have to be a pretty tough reader yourself to swallow everything this book throws at you.

I would compare this to "Unspeakable Things" by Jess Lourey. Both are dark difficult topics involving children. I thought Unspeakable Things was very good, but The Familiar Dark is even better in my opinion.

Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading and loving “The Roanoke Girls” I was very excited to get the chance to review “The Familiar Dark” and had prepared myself for a late night!!

Eve Taggert is working in the diner when her brother Cal a policeman, arrives to give her the traumatic news that her Daughter Junie aged 12 and her best friend Izzy have been discovered in the playground with their throats slit!!

Eve grew up in a trailer in the poor area of Missouri in the small town of Barren Springs, her mother Lynette a met
Jan 31, 2021 rated it liked it
Wanted to give this 3.5 stars - really enjoyed the writing, the main characters, and the story - even though it’s centered around the murder of two young girls. Look forward to reading The Roanoke Girls by this same author.
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Five Dark Stars!

The Familiar Dark was an unexpected rave for me. I didn’t have high hopes because of some unfavorable reviews, but it appears I’m an outlier.

After tentatively opening the front cover I knew I would enjoy this from the first page. Although gritty, I didn’t find it as bleak as described by others and I admired the fortitude of several female characters in the story.

Above all, it’s a story of love between mothers and daughters. Not easily moved to tears, I needed a few hankies while
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
4.5 stars!

Life hasn't been easy for Eve Taggert.  She grew up poor in the hollers of the Missouri Ozarks with a cruel mom hardened at a young age by life.  Eve and her brother Cal were determined to make a better life for themselves and by most accounts, they've succeeded.

Eve was only eighteen when she had her daughter Junie and it changed her life for the better.  She stopped drinking and made the decision to raise her child with all the love and attention she was denied.  
Cal, now a police off
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Amy Engel is the author of THE ROANOKE GIRLS and THE BOOK OF IVY series. A former criminal defense attorney, she lives in Missouri with her family. Her next literary thriller, THE FAMILIAR DARK, will be published by Dutton in Spring 2020.

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“Truth is, there's no good way to navigate being female in this world. If you speak out, say no, stand your ground, you're a bitch and a harpy, and whatever happens to you is your own fault. You had it coming. But if you smile, say yes, survive on politeness, you're weak and desperate. An easy mark. Prey in a world full of predators. There are no risk-free options for women, no choices that don't come back to smack us in the face.” 3 likes
“Because that's the one thing women are never, ever allowed to be. We can be sad, distraught, confused, pleading, forgiving. But not furious. Fury is reserved for other people. The worst thing you can be is an angry woman, an angry mother” 2 likes
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